[Ed. Note: To best help Bitter Lawyers plan for what is potentially the most bitter holiday of the year, we turned to Todd Hawkins, President and Chief Concierge of The Todd Group, for some expert advice on how to survive—and score—this Valentine’s Day.]
Valentine’s Day is an important holiday. Period. If you mess it up, there are repercussions. Unlike Groundhog or Arbor Day, you can’t ignore it. And there’s really no excuse for not trying. While it’s not necessary that you care about it, it is necessary that you show your loved one you care.
My clients range from lawyers and business executives to athletes and celebrities, and my job as a lifestyle concierge is to make sure they live the good life despite working hard. I make hard-to-get dinner reservations, plan relaxing getaways and get the un-getable. I’ve dispatched Singing Cupids to offices and last year delivered “I Love You” Valentine bouquets to 13 women for a single client. (Two of whom worked at the same place!)
Most often, however, the requests I receive from lawyers are for “I’m Sorry” gifts. I do a lot of preventative care and clean-up because significant others sometimes tend to fall by the wayside due to demanding schedules. Everybody’s had a work crisis before, and unfortunately, plans sometimes fall through on special occasions. Lack of time for personal responsibilities makes lawyers less attentive to romance, so it’s easy to get caught up, forget and pay the price.
But this year is a special opportunity to get ahead in the game since the 14th falls on a Saturday, so listen up.
Let’s start with the basics. Here’s a list of four quick, foolproof tactics:
1. Keep it simple
Your significant other will appreciate the little things. For example: Leave a note with a simple “I LOVE YOU” on a mirror or in a drawer that he/she checks daily.
2. Take advantage of the entire weekend
Plan something Saturday and Sunday. An amazing dinner on Saturday becomes even more memorable if it’s followed by a favorite activity on Sunday. Think museum or hike. Or maybe even a weekend getaway that’s not too far from home. The weekend affords you a great chance to add another element besides just the cliché dinner.
3. Put in some effort
A little effort goes a long way, so think about a gift that your loved one would really appreciate. Has she/he been talking about a must-have item lately, or did you fail to get them something they really wanted for Christmas? Now is your time for redemption.
4. Eliminate work from the entire weekend!
This is NOT the weekend to be running to the office for some last-minute work or constantly checking the PDA. Enjoy your loved one’s company and prove to them that they are most important. Focus on them. Remember: Your BlackBerry doesn’t love you back.
One trend this year that adds a level of difficulty: Recession Romance. A failed economy has changed the playing field. Where as last year I was planning extensive vacation packages including swanky hotels, 5-star restaurants, chauffeurs, spa treatments, diamond-stud earrings and other “sure thing” romance makers, this year people are taking a creative direction. It’s all about standing out without paying out.
My two main suggestions? Sentimental gifts and home cooking.
Put your love in the skillet and create a great, simple dining experience at home. A girl will melt if her man puts effort into cooking—even if he burns the entire meal. And great food is a sure way to a man’s heart. Get candles. Make it romantic. Dress sexy. Turn on the charm. Set the tone. Put a playlist together of music you both love. (But avoid all the cheesy love songs.)
Also, write your loved one a note. Men, open up a little bit about your feelings and tell them how much you love them. Women, men want to know you’re proud of and sexually attracted to them. And never type it. Handwriting is more personal. And I mean your handwriting—not your secretary’s.
If you’re in a long-term relationship, it’s all about trying new things together. Engage each other’s interests. If she likes to dance, take a salsa lesson together. If he wishes you cooked, learn how to make his favorite meal.
And I can’t stress enough the benefits of the “weekend getaway.” Take a trip somewhere that doesn’t involve getting on a plane. Somewhere relaxing that will allow quiet and quality time together.
If you stay in town, a couple’s massage followed by dinner is perfect choice. Most women would love their man to indulge in a massage with them, yet most men have hang-ups about spas. Just get over it for a day and get on the damn table. Because guess what—you’ll probably end up really enjoying it.
For new couples (or those yet to define the relationship), keep it simple. DO NOT go overboard. Too elaborate of plans can easily weird the other out. Not to mention, you’ll be expected to top next year anything you do this year. Play it safe. Here’s where “dinner and a movie” is an advisable option. But the woman should pick the movie. Nothing kills romance like taking her to see My Bloody Valentine.
And if all this seems unnecessary, consider Client A. Client A called last year around 4:00 p.m. on Valentine’s Day asking for someone to deliver flowers to his wife because he was out of town and completely forgot. Since every florist and delivery service is cashed by that hour, I hopped in the car and made the delivery myself. When I arrived at his house and rang the doorbell, his wife answered, but she refused to accept the flowers. She said, “I don’t want them,” and asked me to let her husband know that he needn’t return home. There’s no need to pay that price.
Finally, in the event you don’t have a Valentine this year, spare everyone the sulking. Get out and do something fun with friends. I have a client who’s planning a Valentine’s dinner party for six of her closest girlfriends. She and I have been working for weeks to plan every detail from catering to décor to gifts for all her guests. And she admits this is her most anticipated Valentine’s Day ever. Sometimes planning is the most fun part.
Still overwhelmed? There’s still time, and help’s available. Email Todd at .